by helping others
achieve their best,
we find the best
Message from our
Founder & Chair, Nano Chatfield
"I’ve been volunteering in Tanzania for over 14 years. From my work with Tanzanian girls, young women, professionals, and government officials, I've had the chance to discover first-hand how just one volunteer, one donor, or one intern can change a girl’s life forever..."
- Nano Chatfield
Volunteering has taken me further than I ever imagined; over the years, I’ve taught in classrooms, planted gardens, designed curriculums, shopped for school supplies, ridden ‘dala dalas’ (local buses), balanced buckets of water on my head while walking, cleaned pebbles out of rice for dinner, taken cold bucket showers, attended graduations and have been welcomed in many homes and schools. I’ve been encouraged and supported by family, friends, and friends of friends who’ve recognized the value of volunteering in someone else’s community. I’ve been inspired by our dedicated and energetic staff, our American and Tanzanian Board of Directors, teachers and administrators of the schools we partner with, our students, and their families.
finding a way to make a lasting difference
The Tanzanians I’ve met value education greatly. They know that with an education their children can have a better life. Most parents’ biggest worry is paying for school fees for their children. In Tanzania, primary school is free, but secondary school is not. As a teacher, I worried about the future of some of my students after they graduated from primary school. I felt compelled to provide further educational opportunities for bright, promising girls whose
families couldn’t afford to send them to school. That compulsion led me to co-found The Girls Foundation of Tanzania.
Volunteering in Tanzania has expanded my world, instilled a sense of purpose and deeply enriched my life. I’m inspired by our students, their curiosity and desire to learn. A 13-year-old girl has different needs than a 21-year-old young woman. When our 7th grade students arrive for the first time at The Girls Center, they’ve never seen so many books in one place, much less typed on a computer or used a flush toilet. We teach them everything from how
and when to wash their hands properly, to the difference between a fact and an opinion. We encourage them both to speak up and to know when to ask for help. Our older students recognize themselves in our younger students and step in to become their friends, buddies and mentors. They assure them that The Girls Center is a community
of peers who care and respect one another, and who want to learn from each other. And then something wonderful happens—a joyful connection among the new girls and our charismatic and caring Executive Director, Estahappy Mariki and exuberant House Supervisor, Grace Mbuya. The Girls Center becomes a home away from home, a place to
study, to learn, to teach, to share and to support each other.
What's next for our girls and our organization
I am continually reminded of how lucky I am to be part of this team. It’s a team that’s dedicated and engaged in creative problem-solving. Our priority is serving and providing for smart girls and tenacious young women who desperately want an education. TGFT strives to match their ambitions with skills, their passions with knowledge, their steadfastness with responsibilities. We are educating young girls today who we hope will become tomorrow’s middle class; well-educated young women empowered to make their own choices about who to marry and when to have children, successful, employable adults civically engaged in their home communities.
None of us can hope to solve the problems of the entire world. However, at The Girls Foundation of Tanzania, we’re changing the entire world for a single girl, one girl at a time.
U.S. LEADERSHIP TEAM
I believe in the power of girls and the power of education. I’m driven by our mission to provide quality education inside and outside the Tanzanian classroom to smart young and adolescent women living in extreme poverty in Tanzania.
I grew up in the Northeast spending my summers in Maine where I’ve been living with my family for the past 25 years. I completed an MFA degree in creative writing in 1983 from Vermont College, and am a product and proponent of all-female learning environments as a graduate of Smith College in 1978 with a B.A. in English Literature and Miss Porter’s School in 1974. My teaching career has taken me from Framingham State College and Bradford College in Massachusetts to English as a Second Language classes for immigrants in Portland, Maine to rural classrooms in Tanzania.
From 2005-2010, I served as Chair of the Board of the Tanzanian Children’s Fund, which supports an orphanage and primary school near Karatu, Tanzania. In my extensive volunteering experience in northern Tanzania, I have been inspired by grassroots efforts making a sustainable difference in assisting women and children with overcoming incredible hardships to support their families. I believe in the power of girls and the power of education and am energized by our mission to provide quality education to adolescent girls in Tanzania through supporting locally-based, early stage non-profit ventures.
TANZANIAN LEADERSHIP TEAM
For the last 10 years, I have been working and volunteering as a community development facilitator in my local community helping young girls, women, children, elders, and people who are HIV+ in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions in Tanzania.
I grew up in Singida, and at 17 years-old began studying for me Clinical and Community Medicine Diploma and have since earned my International Certificate in Children and Youth, my Bachelor degree in Social Work, and have represented The Open University women at the UN model conference in Rome, regarding the education and health issues that fellow African women are facing.
I have worked as a counselor, facilitator, trainer, and policy planner at various institutions, including; The Foundation for Civil Society, Family Health International in Tanzania, TACAIDS (Tanzanian Commission for AIDS), Global Fund under Pact-Tanzania, Population Science Information (PSI Tanzania), Kilimanjaro NGOs cluster on HIV/AIDs and Reproductive health Interventions (KINSHAI in Tanzania), Food Water Shelter (Kesho Leo program in Tanzania), and Africare NGO in Tanzania.
I am very excited to be a part of The Girls Foundation of Tanzania as the Director. I believe that every girl deserves a chance to be educated. I’m excited to work with such motivated girls who are strong role models at school and in their communities: they demonstrate the value of girls’ education in Tanzania and elsewhere around the world. Together we will make positive changes for girls’ education in Tanzania.
Tanzania is a magical place for me and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be involved through TGFT to support Tanzanian girls in their efforts to find their strengths and flourish.
I studied at Wellesley College and the University of Connecticut School Of Law, and have since worked as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge, taught University of Warwick School of Law in England and the University of Connecticut law school, and worked as a staff attorney at the federal Court of Appeals in Boston. As well as leading a rewarding professional career, I raised my daughter and spent many happy hours volunteering at the schools she attended.
In 1980, I made my first visit to Tanzania to see the amazing animals, however, drawn by the country, its people, and particularly the children, I have returned many times since. I volunteered three summers at the Rift Valley Children’s Village, where the children’s resiliency, eagerness to learn and sweetness overwhelmed me. I interned at the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, worked with a women’s collective in Moshi, observing the huge impact that they could make in the lives of women and their families, and last year in Arusha, I taught a development counselor a Junior Year Abroad program run by Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.
Development experts disagree about almost everything, as far as I can tell, but no one questions the huge impact made by the education and empowerment of women. That is why TGFT is an exciting venture, which I am proud to contribute to.